Historic deal to protect Macarthur koala colony

Macarthur’s koala colony is the real winner in an historic deal between Wollondilly Council and Walker Corporation.

The two organisations have entered into a Deed of Agreement to protect the koala population around the development at South East Wilton.

The development company will erect fencing around koala habitat areas to keep koalas off Picton Road and will clean out and upgrade culverts to allow koalas to cross safely under roads.

Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan said the agreement was the result of widespread community support along with months of negotiation and hard work between the council and Walker Corporation. 

“Our intention from the outset has been to secure the future of the koalas,” she said.

“This agreement sets in place a wide range of measures that will make sure any development that takes place near koala habitats will have no negative impact on the colony.

“The community and the council have fought hard for the koala colony through a vigorous campaign and we are pleased to be putting these protections in place today (Tuesday, September 11).

“This agreement between the council and Walker shows what the community and developers can achieve when they work collaboratively together.” 

Under the agreement, Walker Corporation will also create a koala habitat restoration plan, install permanent koala warning signs on Picton Road and signage of all habitat areas, conduct a koala monitoring program and give information brochures to residents.

The deal sets a benchmark for koala protections that Walker will follow across all development in the region.

The agreement is the latest step in the council’s push to save the Wollondilly koala colony and protect their habitat from intrusive development.

The mayor said the Department of Planning and Environment’s decision to rezone the South East Wilton precinct threatened to bisect the southern portion of the Allens Creek, a vital koala corridor. 

The council’s petition called on the state government to repeal this rezoning until a local koala protection strategy is in place and there is certainty the habitat will be protected into the future.

The petition will be discussed in state parliament on Thursday, September 27.

Walker Corporation’s executive planner Gerry Beasley said the agreement put Walker’s commitments to the koala colony in writing and sets a major milestone for other developers in the region.

“The Macarthur koala colony is critically important to both the community and Walker and we will do everything we possibly can to make sure we are supporting the koalas into the future,” Mr Beasley said.

“We will work closely with the council, the state government, agencies like WIRES and our ecological experts to get the best outcomes for the colony.

“Our focus for Wilton South East for the families who will one day call it home is creating a healthy, connected, well-serviced and sustainable community on a unique bushland fringe site.

“We know the koalas are a big part of what makes this area so special and we want to preserve it.”

Walker has previously committed to retaining all vegetation on the South East Wilton development site, which covers 40 per cent of the landholding. 

Walker Corporation recently engaged EMM Consulting’s Dr Steve Ward, an eminent ecologist with a long connection to the Macarthur region to support work Walker is doing to secure the koala colony.

“It is important the local koala colony maintains good connections to allow animals to move and find breeding partners,” Dr Ward said.

“A serious issue facing the colony is road crossings. This agreement introduces significant, positive mitigations to help the colony move through the region safely.”

Cr Hannan thanked the community and advocates for its support for the Save Our Koalas campaign.